USA Receives Scholarship Grant for Future Diverse Mathematics Teachers

Posted on April 14, 2023
Joy Washington

Dr. Susan Ferguson, Dr. Katie Guffey McCorrison data-lightbox='featured'
The Noyce Pathway to Mathematics 2 grant Principal Investigator Dr. Susan Ferguson, left, and Co- Principal Investigator Dr. Katie McCorrison, who’s also the principal investigator of the Noyce NSF STREAM grant. The NSF STREAM grant will help increase the number of K-12 science teachers.

The Colleges of Education and Professional Studies, Arts and Sciences and Engineering at the University of South Alabama are partnering with the Mobile County, Baldwin County, Saraland, Satsuma, and Gulfport Public Schools to increase the number of highly qualified, diverse middle and high school mathematics teachers in grades six through 12.

“I would like to congratulate Dr. Susan Ferguson and her co-principal investigators on being awarded a Noyce Pathway to Mathematics 2 grant. The funding for this grant holds great promise for enhancing student achievement by providing highly qualified mathematics teachers in classrooms that currently do not have certified teachers,” said Dr. John Kovaleski, interim dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies. “Our focus in the College is to promote effective practices for teachers serving Mobile and the greater Gulf Coast area.”

This $943,000 Noyce Pathway to Mathematics 2: An Integrated STEM Initiative Focused in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (PTM2) grant will be funded by the National Science Foundation. The grant award will support at least 20 graduate student scholars. The project total could reach $1.2 million over a five-year term. 

According to Noyce Project Director Dr. Susan Ferguson, principal investigator of the grant and associate professor in the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education, there is a need for more certified mathematics teachers to increase student achievement. As project director of this grant, Ferguson will be overseeing recruitment, mentorship and supervision of the selected Noyce Scholars.

“Schools need more diverse, highly qualified teachers in mathematics who can reach students from every background. In 2011, USA was awarded the first Noyce Pathway to Mathematics grant, and we were able to graduate and produce 25 mathematics teachers to support Mobile County Public Schools,” Ferguson said. “We are pleased to receive this new grant where we can continue the great work of sustaining the efforts gained from previously funded projects by producing new scholars who will commit to teaching mathematics.” 

Each of the new scholars in the program will receive a graduate scholarship award of approximately $41,256. This stipend will cover tuition, books, housing and the 42-hour graduate teacher certification program. Prospective students could earn an Alternative Master of Education in Mathematics. 

This multi-disciplinary program will recruit STEM professionals during the spring and summer semesters that will be drawn from a wide diversity of demographic, disciplinary and professional backgrounds to careers in secondary STEM teaching such as mathematics, statistics and engineering. 

“The Pathways to Mathematics 2 program will prepare future teachers for the challenging task of serving as STEM educators,” Ferguson said. “What’s unique about this grant is that it will continue to include a 10-week pre-residency experience, ‘A Taste of the Teaching PI,’ which will allow prospective teachers to observe with mentor teachers before accepting the scholarship and joining the PTM2 program. We are pleased the Pathways to Mathematics program also has a history of having a high retention rate. The new scholars will also participate in the Summer STEM and Diversity Institute. This will include a week of intensive training each summer.”

One of the co-principal investigators of this grant is Dr. Katie Guffey McCorrison, assistant professor of science education in the College of Education and Professional Studies Department of Leadership and Teacher Education. McCorrison is also the principal investigator of the Noyce NSF STREAM grant that will help increase the number of K-12 science teachers.

 “I will support this grant program by teaching a course to our new scholars that will prepare them for teaching and learning in diverse classrooms,” McCorrison noted. “The Pathway to Mathematics 2 program will also work with the Noyce STREAM program to create community among Noyce scholars. STREAM and PTM2 Scholars will attend conferences together and engage in professional learning communities.”

2015 Noyce Mathematics Scholar alumnus Ramsey Willis, a math teacher at partner school Davidson High School and an instructor in the USA mathematics department, will serve as a mentor to the new scholars along with 2019 Noyce Mathematics Scholar alumnus Dru McCleave. McCleave teaches mathematics at Pillans Middle School.

Other USA co-principal investigators actively involved with supporting this grant include Dr. Andre Green, professor of science education and associate vice president for Academic Affairs, who has been awarded nearly $9 million in grant funds from the NSF Noyce Grant program for science and mathematics and for the annual Robert Noyce Conference; along with College of Education and Professional Studies faculty Dr. Kelly Byrd, assistant professor of mathematics in education; Dr. Joseph Gaston, assistant professor of technology education;  Dr. Christopher Parrish, associate professor of mathematics in education; Dr. James Van Haneghan, chair of the Department of Counseling and Instructional Sciences, who will manage the evaluation of the program; Dr. Tres Stefurak, associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies; College of Arts and Sciences faculty representative Dr. Madhuri Mulekar, chair of mathematics and statistics; and College of Engineering faculty representative Dr. Shenghua Wu, assistant professor of civil engineering. 

Become a Noyce Scholar

Have you considered a career in education? The new Noyce Pathway to Mathematics 2 Scholars and Noyce STREAM Science Scholars programs at the University of South Alabama are seeking potential teacher candidates to attend a come-and-go informational meeting between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, April 24 or Tuesday, April 25 at the College of Education and Professional Studies (University Commons, Room 3901). Interested candidates can come and go as their time allows. More details are here.

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